On the fritz

Posted by ESC on May 12, 2005

In Reply to: On the fritz posted by Michelle on May 12, 2005

: I am unable to find any history on the phrase "on the fritz", such as "The television is on the fritz". Used when referring to something not functioning correctly.

Here is one theory. There's probably a bunch more in the archives -- search under "fritz."

ON THE FRITZ -- Out of order; broken. Fritz is the German nickname for Friedrich and, during World War I it came to stand for Germans in general. Considering America's distaste for Germany at that time, the expression may have sprung from the notion that if there was wrongdoing, the Germans must have had a hand in it. This is speculation, however, and one must note that 'Webster's Third International Dictionary' says of the expression, 'origin unknown.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).